Tulamben, Bali October 2014
Back to Liberty Dive Resort again. October 2014
and I have started my two week trip which is the
fourth and final visit for the year. Its great to
come back and settle in with having a feeling
that I never left. I was once again met with
smiling faces as I caught up with all the staff at
Liberty and had a bit of dinner with a couple of
beers before heading to bed after a long day of
travelling.
Day One
Started the day with a couple of dives at
Seraya Secrets and it was good to get back in.
Went to see if the yellow Pygmy Seahorses were
still there and they were but we didn’t spend
much time with them. Spent the rest of the dive taking a look along the lopes and back up to the shallow. The second dive took us to the
cleaning station which was running a bit quiet so we had a scout around the area and Mega found two
Harlequin Shrimp sitting on top of a rock which made for some good shots. Also had a play with a small
friendly Moray Eel that had an attraction for the loose threads on the end of my glove. The day was
finished with a dive at Coral Gardens in Tulamben Bay. Nice dive and spent a bit of time looking in areas I
had not seen before.
Day Two
Mega had told me of a spot they now dive about 500 metres east of Seraya so we decided to do two
dives here. It is a very stony site that slopes away rather quickly but it is full of life with more Harlequins
out in the open as well as many small Morays in amongst the boulders. Lots of Nudibranchs for those that
are interested in them and some small blue Crayfish that I had not seen here before.
Wound the day up with a couple of dives at Bali Hai. I like this site because we always find stuff here to
shoot and I was not let down. Spent a bit of time with a Xeno crab that had a bit more colour for a
change. Also lots of nice Anemone Fish here as well with a good variety of colours. Sat watching a really
big Barracuda getting a cleaning from a couple of Wrasse with its mouth
wide open bearing all its armory of teeth.
Day Three
Off to Milasti this morning in search of Doughnut Nudibranchs and whatever else we stumble onto. This is
always a nice site when there is no current but today we had a bit. Still had a good run with the
doughnuts and managed a few shots I was happy with but all in all it was a pretty uneventful day with the
third and final dive on the wreck slope being a bit arid as far as subject matter goes.
Day Four
Good day of diving starting with a couple at Seraya Secrets which, once again, proves to be a must visit
site when in the area. We found Tiger Shrimp. Boxer Crabs, Bumblebee Shrimp, Juvenile Lion Fish, Ghost
Pipe Fish and egg laden Mantis Shrimp all in a couple of dives. Made for a good start to the day but was
followed by a dive at the Big Tree site (between Bali Hai and Melasti) which produced a huge Hermit Crab
as well as several Coleman Shrimp.
The final dive was at Bali Hai and was more a wind down from a great day of diving. The Seraya Bay area
is well worth the time and I spend less and less time at Tulamben Bay as
its popularity increases.
Day Five
Back to the big tree site for another crack at the Coleman Shrimp. Only a light current this morning and we
found the Fire Urchins with their resident Coleman Shrimp in 27 metres. Spent two dives on this site as
there is a lot of life. There are numerous varieties of Nudibranch along the sand slopes with small rocky
outcrops providing shelter for Harlequin Shrimp, Tiger Shrimp and many other interesting creatures.
The visibility was quite good so I decided to switch to wide angle for the last dive. We entered the water
at Mimpi Resort in Tulamben Bay and headed to an area where the locals have set up many small statues
and structures that make for interesting subject matter. It was a good opportunity to get back into the
swing of wide angle and there are some great areas along here to take advantage of.
Day Six
Early morning dive on the wreck of the Liberty with no wind, no waves and good visibility. All the usual
subjects were found on the dive including the Bump Head Wrasse that
frequent the stern of the wreck. Very easy and casual dive to start the
day which will include two dives at the site of the Kubu Wreck. Did the
first dive at Kubu on the wreck which was sunk here for diving. It looks like it may have settled a little and
not sliding any further down the slope at least for now.
We were lucky enough to have only a light current and had a nice casual dive through the interior and
upper deck. There is a bit of life starting to develop on the wreck including some nice soft corals and
fans.
The last dive was just a casual swim around coral gardens to finish a busy day.
Day Seven
Day Off
Day Eight
Back on macro as our planed trip to Amed was axed. We started at Bali Hai
for a couple of dives but they were uneventful as things were a bit quiet
They were still nice relaxing dives but I guess I am just getting used to
the life around here. We finished the day with another two dives at Seraya
where we spent a bit of time with the Harlequin Shrimp and the cleaning station which has been a bit
inactive on this trip. All in all a quiet day but still some nice diving.
Day Nine
Off to the drop off for the first time in a few years and it was nice to get back to it. Visibility was really
good and there were lots of big fans and soft corals and the walls were covered in fish life. I was shooting
macro so we had a look for some Denise Pygmy Sea Horses but they were a bit small for my setup. Very
beautiful dive.
Next we headed over to Segara for two dives with the first being to the left and along the wall. Big
schools of Barracuda as well as many Anemones with their Clown Fish. We also came across a nice turtle
laying in the reef but I didn’t have my wide angle with me. The second dive was a relaxing swim along the
sand bank. This area was teaming with Ghost Pipe Fish with groups of four or five not uncommon.
Day Ten
Off to the Japanese Wreck for a few dives. Finally got my act together and visited this site after putting it
off a number of times on recent trips. The site is quite shallow and really weather dependent so plan
ahead. Even though we had good conditions the water around the wreck was milky and made it difficult to
get a good shot but the site has great potential. We ended up doing three dives which took in the wreck
as well as the wall that can be found moving left away from the wreck but watch for current as it can be
quite strong here. The wall is covered in massive fans with big schools of fish patrolling the area as well as
soft corals and plenty of colourful reef fish. Its a very nice dive and worth the short trip from Tulamben.
There are reasonably good facilities here with toilets, a restaurant and plenty of shade.
Day Eleven
Back to macro and a couple of dives at Batuniti, just east of Seraya. Lots of stuff here from Frog Fish,
Harlequin Shrimp and Tiger Shrimp to Coleman Shrimp and numerous varieties of Nudibranchs. We did two
dives here before heading back to Liberty Resort for lunch and a short break. Next it was back to Coral
Gardens to try and shoot the Blenny at the 20m cleaning station. I always like this site because there is so
much to find. In the deep there is the cleaning station as well as many clusters of rock that are home to
many species. Up in the shallows there are many man made structures put
in place to attract life and they certainly do that.
Although the steel “plane” structure is beginning to break down it is still
covered in thousands of fish and if you spend a bit of time here you can
find many small shrimp as well as Moray Eels and the occasional Leafy Scorpion Fish. The final dive of the
day took us back to the Liberty Wreck for a very relaxing dive looking for Blennies, Denise Pygmies and
whatever else crossed our path. This wreck is amazing in clear conditions but is best dived early in the
morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowd that come up from the south.
Day Twelve.
My last day of diving. Quite a good day with two dives at Seraya and two at Big Tree and we explored
some areas that we hadn't visited before. Seraya continually proves to be one of the most consistent
sites in the area with a number of ridges running out to sea. Each one is a little different to the last and
the site has Harlequin Shrimp, Tiger Shrimp, Boxer Crabs, Ghost Pipe Fish, Pygmy Sea Horses, a really good
cleaning station and many Anemone Fish.
Big Tree was home to Coleman Shrimp on this trip with a number Fire Urchins at about 29 metres but that
doesn't mean they will be there next week. This is quite a nice site with the usual clusters of marine life in
the deep and a large area of corals in the shallower areas.
This is the sixth time I have visited and stayed at Liberty Dive Resort over the last eighteen months and I have watched it grow by
another ten or twelve rooms with the addition of another swimming pool ( making it three ) and the extension of the Restaurant. Even with
this rapid growth the management of the resort have increased their workforce and have the ability to employ staff that fit in with the
whole concept of the resort. Nothing is too hard and if they can do something for you, they will. If they can’t then don’t be offended as it
is still a remote area. The other upgrade for Liberty Dive Resort has been the that of their WiFi which is now quite adequate with limited
down time. Again, this is a remote area so don’t expect streaming video but for constant communication with the outside world you wont
have a problem. I now feel like I have made many close friends with the staff and keep in touch with many of them while I am back in
Australia. They always make me feel like I am at home and I often find myself at the receiving end of many jokes but I would not have it
any other way. Keep up the good work Liberty